Posted by: atowhee | June 27, 2017


The dog and I were almost ready to leave Wennerberg Park today…and then I heard that buzzy two-note call of the Willow Flycatcher, “Fitz–brew.”  I realized the bird was right in front of me, in willows along the North Yamhill “River.” It is the first time I have recorded this species at Wennerberg in two years of regular birding there.

Though it is an eBird “hotspot,” nobody else posts bird sightings from this park so this is the lone Willow Flycatcher so far.  I have gotten up to 82 species for the site in under two years. The Willow Flycatcher though my camera insisted on focusing on the thin branch between him and the lens.WF CALLSWF SIDE


There are two major imperatives among living beings on this earth: personal survival and reproduction.  The latter is the dominant theme here in this season.  Among birds it is nesting, fledging, rearing the next generation.  Bird parenthood is never easy nor simple.  Yesterday I saw a flicker family of four in the grass of a ball field at Dancer Park.  Parents showing the young how it is done.  “Getting an any out of the grass, spot and thrust, spot and thrust, thus…”   At Wennerberg today I watched a family of BH Grosbeak moving through the trees, youngster following parents to beg for food.  While on the ground another dog walker showed me the empty Junco’s  nest, they eggs had been broken open and eaten.  The nest was very badly hidden, perhaps young and inexperienced parents.ANN-LADYAbove: female Anna’s Hummer in soft sunlight. Below: male Junco, not far from failed junco nest which follows his image.JUNCO GRNDJUNCO NESTPEWEE-FENCPewee working deep left-centerfield.  Whiel he perched there over a dozen Barn Swallows sped just above the grass-tops across lawn and ball fields alike.  Below: scrub-jay exploring  newly piled loose dirt.SJ1SJ2

In the plant world reproduction means blossoms–right now it is the nettle and the morning glories that are most noticeable.  Already many bushes are showing this year’s fruit, trees are developing fruit or nuts as is their wont, those successful members of of the composites are already putting out wind-born seed.  In our garden the blueberries are starting to color and the hydrangeas are in glorious, luxuriant bloom.  Apples are about the size of a small plum right now.BLUBRRYBlueberry above, hydrangea below.HYDRG

The adjacent clover field at Wennerberg is now in bloom.  As I walked along the margin two flickers lifted up from the dense clover and flew up into the trees.CLVRCREEKAbove, the alleged river…below one of the glorious morning glories.IMG_0007NETTLENettle above, its prickly nature neatly hidden.  Below: a vine member of the nightshade family and thus a distant cousin of the beloved Irish potato which should be called the Incan potato.NIGHTSHAD


Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jun 27, 2017 10:40 AM – 11:25 AM.  17 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  3
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  2
Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii)  1     calling
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  4
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster)  15
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  12
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  5
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  2
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  8
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | June 26, 2017


Last evening one of our neighboring families was out after sunset.  As dusk settled in the eastern sky, the clouds and heavens overhead and unto the west colored brightly.  The far eastern horizon turned a dark teal.  As the eye traveled upward toward the peak of the dome above the rose and orange and golden and pewter tints became bold.  The lower clouds were a silvery pink while the higher fluffs of cloud shown like curls of butter on blue toast.   In the west the orange and gold and saffron tones dominated.  The neighbors outside at that hour evidently were a family of five, their dark arcs moved smoothly across the colored scrim behind them.  Their curved wings fluttered in rapid bursts but the flight path of each moved in smooth curves and rapid swoops.  It was our local Vaux’s Swifts dining before going to hang it up for the night.  As hang they must, being unable to perch.

This morning there was considerable birdsong in the cool air along Yamhill River in Joe Dancer Park.  Most persistent were the grosbeaks, but I could pick up White-breasted Nuthatch, Spotted Towhee, Western Tanager, Warbling Vireo, Purple Finch, Song Sparrow and crows somewhere across the river.  Two of the few birds I saw but did not hear were a Cedar Waxwing, and a secretive Bewick’s Wren creeping through the undergrowth.

A wild mint is blooming in the shaded spots at Dancer Park, its upper stalks crowned with deep purple florets.  The hawthorn and thimbleberries both promise a prodigious fruit crop in late summer this year.

Joe Dancer Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jun 26, 2017 11:25 AM – 12:25 PM
14 species

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  7
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
White-breasted Nuthatch (Pacific) (Sitta carolinensis aculeata/alexandrae)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  9
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  7
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (oregonus Group) (Pipilo maculatus [oregonus Group])  5
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  2
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  8
Purple Finch (Western) (Haemorhous purpureus californicus)  1

Posted by: atowhee | June 23, 2017


Friday, June 23.  As the days shorten, they also get hotter in early summer.  Today the high was in mid-90s.  The dog and I hied ourselves over to the Yamhill Sewer Ponds in mid-afternoon. We briefly braved the withering sunshine and the desiccating wind to check out the ponds: one Spotted Sandpiper seen. For the most part we stayed in the shade along the creek. There were not a lot of birds in the air: many Tree Swallows, a pair of Violet-green and a single blue heron fly-by.  The swallows are nesting in the boxes along the fence and were carrying food back to the nests this afternoon.

The blackberries and poison hemlock were luxuriant and covered with blooms.  There’ll be plenty of seeds and berries by late summer. Also in bloom: roadside catalpa, buttercups, wild roses, various white daisies.  At one still pool in the creek a frog plunked into the water.  At another pool I could see a submerged truck tire on the creek bottom.  Nothing is beyond human desecration, I fear.  Yet I did see a Green Heron silently waft upstream to escape my presence.

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jun 23, 2017 2:50 PM – 3:20 PM.  13 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 25
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 11
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 1
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) 1
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) 1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 40
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) 2
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 3
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 2
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) X

Carlton City Sewer Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jun 23, 2017 3:45 PM – 3:50 PM.  7 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) X
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 2
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) X
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) 1
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) 2

Posted by: atowhee | June 23, 2017


President Trump pretends he doesn’t believe in climate change.  Not that he could tell you what “climate change” means.  He just knows that he doesn’t want anybody thinking Mara Lago will get too hot for winter golf.  Bad.  Bad for business.  Really bad.  Fake Science.

Meanwhile two different federal agencies continue to make available maps showing how the climate us shifting, using actual data.  Remember when data mattered?  Before the era tweeting bumper stickers, I believe.

Click here for comparison of the two climate zone maps and how they’ve change and how they differ.

Posted by: atowhee | June 23, 2017


Here’s youtube video of Great Gray Owlet on nest platform swallowing, gradually, a ground squirrel served up by mom:

Video is from Cascades east of Ashland at about 4500′ elevation.


Posted by: atowhee | June 23, 2017


Here are two youtube videos by my friend, Peter Thiemann.  Shows Golden Eagle adult delivering food to nest:

Posted by: atowhee | June 22, 2017


There’s been some great research done on birds eggs…and the why of their physical form. Turns out strong fliers have more elongated eggs, for good reason.  You can read a good summary here.


Posted by: atowhee | June 17, 2017


The second and last reunion birdwalk was this morning.  We added a species not seen before: pair of Orchard Orioles weaving their sac nest in tree next to  upper Lyman Lake.  Sew also saw House Wren coming and going from nest hole in tree along the same lakeshore. Barn Swallows are nesting on northeast corner of Evans Hall.  Earlier this week I saw White=breasted Nuthatch at nest hole near Leighton Hall.  There is no such thing as “summer vacation” in the world of the adult bird. Boldest bird this morning was the Eastern Kingbird, hunting and fly-catching before our eyes.  Cedar Waxwing would have been voted most handsome.

Carleton College Campus, Rice, Minnesota, US
Jun 17, 2017 6:30 AM – 7:40 AM
22 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  5
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)  6
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)  1
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  X
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  X     nesting at norrthwest corner of Evans Hall below brick bay of windows
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
House Wren (Northern) (Troglodytes aedon [aedon Group])  1     nesting in tree hole next to upper Lyman Lake
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)  2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  1
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  10
Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)  2     nest building in tree next to upper Lyman Lake
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  4

Posted by: atowhee | June 16, 2017


There were three dozen people on our dawn bird walk at the college reunion.  Despite a bit of mist the weather held and the birds appeared.  Two Catbirds, at least three Baltimore Orioles, female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, male Yellow Warbler, fly-over Red-tailed Hawk, Black-capped Chickadees, a pair of Eastern Kingbirds patrolling their territory by Lyman Lakes, Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Birds and birders were both pleased with their relative performance.  One more bird walk tomorrow.

Carleton College Campus, Rice, Minnesota, US
Jun 16, 2017 6:30 AM – 7:30 AM.  18 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) X
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon)) X
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) 1
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) 2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) X
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 2
House Wren (Northern) (Troglodytes aedon [aedon Group]) X
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) 2
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) X
Yellow Warbler (Northern) (Setophaga petechia [aestiva Group]) 1
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) X
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) 1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) X
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) 4

Posted by: atowhee | June 15, 2017


There were more birds than mosquitoes on the campus this morning.  That’s always a welcome situation…and not always true.  This dawn the grosbeaks were in voice after being silent in yesterday afternoon’s heat.  The nuthatches, wrens, robins, bunting and swallows were all heard from.  Waxwings were playing tag in the brush above Lyman Lakes.  I got to see one swift swoop down to the lake’s surface and splash as it got a drink.  Unable to land on branch or land this bird must eat and drink in flight.

Carleton College campus, Rice, Minnesota, US
Jun 15, 2017 6:35 AM – 7:20 AM.  25 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)  X
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  X
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)  2
Bell’s Vireo (Eastern) (Vireo bellii bellii/medius)  X
Warbling Vireo (Eastern) (Vireo gilvus gilvus)  X
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  X
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster)  X
White-breasted Nuthatch (Eastern) (Sitta carolinensis carolinensis)  2
House Wren (Northern) (Troglodytes aedon [aedon Group])  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)  2
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  10
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  X
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)  X
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  1
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  4
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  4
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

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